It’s easy to make delicious beef baked meatballs in the oven with this simple recipe. Serve them with a red wine BBQ sauce to create a flavorful appetizer, perfect for holiday parties, but scrumptious anytime of the year!

meatballs with bbq sauce in bowl and meatball on a spoon in the bowl

Thank you to my friends at California Beef Council for sponsoring today’s post!

Whether it’s game day, a holiday party or just a casual get-together, these meatballs are perfect for entertaining! The red wine bbq sauce has both a sweet and smokey flavor, while the meatballs are tender and juicy, with a wonderful beef flavor. The two combine to create incredibly flavorful meatballs, that will be talked about at parties for years to come!

This holiday season, I partnered up with my friends at California Beef Council to share my favorite beef appetizers, paired with wines from each region in California. For this meatball recipe, I paired it with a Pinot Noir from Sonoma County. I not only paired the wine with the recipe, I also incorporated it into the recipe itself by creating a red wine bbq sauce to pour over the meatballs.

Join the Tour of California Wine Pairing Party and check out all of the beef appetizers I paired with wines from different regions in California. Each of the recipes are easy to make and guaranteed to impress all of your party guests this holiday season!

These BBQ Baked Meatballs can easily be made ahead of time and transfered to a slow cooker to stay warm throughout a party. You can also make them for an easy weeknight meal. Meatball subs, wraps, bowls or sliders, the sky is the limit when it comes to serving these delicious baked meatballs!

From the handmade meatballs to the made-from-scratch BBQ sauce, no one will believe that it only takes 40 minutes to create such flavorful meatballs!

ingredients for beef meatballs with bbq sauce

Ingredients

  • Olive oil
  • Shallots – this variety of onion has a sweet, delicate flavor with a hint of sharpness. You can substitute onions in this recipe, just know that they’ll have a more sharp, pungent, less sweet flavor than the shallots.
  • Garlic cloves
  • Ground beef – for this recipe I used 80/20 ground beef, which is 80% lean meat, 20% fat. This is the perfect ratio for an all-beef meatball, as it has just the right amount of lean meat to hold the meatballs together and enough fat to keep them juicy.
  • Panko breadcrumbs – I recommend panko, over traditional breadcrumbs, because of their light, airy texture. This helps keep the meatballs light and airy vs. dense. It doesn’t make a huge difference, so traditional breadcrumbs can be used in place of the panko, just make sure that whichever bread crumbs you use are unseasoned.
  • Eggs
  • Salt
  • Smoked paprika
  • Black pepper
  • Dry mustard – you may also see dry mustard labeled as ground mustard or mustard powder at the grocery store. They’re all the same & can be used interchangeably.
  • Pinot noir – or another dry, light-bodied red wine, like grenache or zinfandel.
  • Tomato paste
  • Brown sugar
  • Beef broth
collage of images showing how to make baked beef meatballs

Step by step instructions

You can start the recipe by preparing the BBQ sauce first or the baked meatballs. If preparing the meatballs first, do not place them in the oven until the BBQ sauce is prepared and simmering on the stove. This way, the meatballs and sauce will be hot and ready at the same time.

To prepare THE BEST baked meatballs, follow these 4 simple steps.

  1. Cook diced shallots and minced garlic in olive oil, in a large skillet on the stove over medium-high heat, for 6 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside. Add ground beef, breadcrumbs, eggs, salt, smoked paprika and black pepper to a large bowl with the cooked shallots and garlic.
  2. Combine all of the ingredients using your hands or a spatula. Once the ingredients are combined well, do not continue mixing. Over-mixing will make the meatballs tough.
  3. Form the meatballs into 1 1/2 inch balls. This recipe should make approximately 40 meatballs. Place the meatballs on a foil-lined baking sheet and into the oven on the middle rack.
    • Quick tip! You can also line the baking sheet with parchment paper, instead of foil. Either one will help make clean-up a breeze!
  4. Broil on high for 5-7 minutes, then remove the meatballs from the oven.
collage of images showing how to prepare bbq sauce for meatballs

The red wine bbq sauce can be prepared after the meatballs are formed, but before they go into the oven. Or the sauce can be prepared first, followed by the meatballs. To make the sauce, simply follow these 4 easy steps.

  1. Cook diced shallots and minced garlic in olive oil, in a large skillet on the stove over medium-high heat, for 6 minutes. Add smoked paprika, black pepper, salt and dry mustard to the skillet and stir all of the ingredients together.
  2. Pour red wine into the skillet and turn the heat on the stove up to high. Bring the wine to a boil, then reduce the heat to simmer for 5-7 minutes.
  3. Add tomato paste, brown sugar and beef broth to the skillet. Whisk the ingredients together, then bring the sauce to a simmer again, stirring occasionally for 5 minutes. At this time, the meatballs should go into the oven for 5-7 minutes.
  4. Remove the meatballs from the oven, place them in a large serving bowl, pour the bbq sauce over the meatballs and serve.
meatball covered in bbq sauce on spoon in bowl of meatballs

Frequently asked questions

  • Can you make them ahead of time? Yes, you can make the meatballs up to 24 hours in advance. Cover and store them in the refrigerator until ready to bake. You can also make the bbq sauce in advance and store it in a covered container in the refrigerator until ready to serve. I recommend reheating the bbq sauce on the stove in a saucepan before serving over the meatballs.
  • Can you make the meatballs in a slow cooker? Yes and no. I recommend following the recipe as instructed and baking the meatballs in the oven, but you can place the meatballs in a slow cooker when they come out of the oven and cover them in the bbq sauce, then keep them in the slow cooker on warm for up to 4 hours. This is perfect for a party!
  • Can you bake instead of broil the meatballs? Yes, the meatballs can be baked in a 375°F oven for 15-18 minutes, or until the internal temperature of the meatballs reaches 160°F. I always recommend an instant-read thermometer for checking meat temperatures.
  • How long will leftover meatballs stay good? Stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator, these meatballs will stay good for up to 5 days.
  • Can you make the meatballs and serve them with a different sauce? Absolutely! These meatballs are delicious on their own, or you can serve them with marinara sauce for a scrumptious Italian meal, or with Thai Peanut Sauce for a fun Asian spin on the meatballs! If serving them “Italian style” I recommend swapping out the smoked paprika and dry mustard, for 1 1/2 teaspoons Italian seasoning.
  • Can you freeze the meatballs? Yes, fully-cooked meatballs can be frozen for up to 6 months in a freezer-safe bag or container.
    • How do you cook frozen meatballs in the oven? To cook the frozen meatballs in the oven, place them in an even layer on a baking sheet, with space in between each meatball. Bake at 375°F for 10-15 minutes, or until heated through.
    • How do you cook them in a slow cooker? Add the frozen meatballs to a slow cooker, cover in the sauce of your choice and cook on low for 8-10 hours.
    • Can you cook them in a sauce on the stove? Sure thing! Add them to a large skillet on the stove over medium heat, pour your choice of sauce over the meatballs and heat for 20-25 minutes.
    • What about in the air fryer? Yup! Place the meatballs in a single layer in the air fryer at 400°F for 9-11 minutes. Remove from the air fryer and serve with sauce for dipping, or pour the sauce right over the meatballs.
bbq sauce covered meatballs in bowl with wooden spoon

Ways to serve them

These bite-sized meatballs are perfect for serving with a small bowl of toothpicks for a tray-passed appetizer at a party. You can also add them to a roll to make meatball subs or wrap them up in a tortilla to make delicious wraps. Turn these delicious baked meatballs into a meal with any of these tasty ideas!

  • Make a meatball sub! Add 3-4 warm meatballs covered in bbq sauce to a hot dog bun or hoagie roll. Cover with shredded cheddar cheese and place on a baking sheet under the broiler in the oven for 2-3 minutes. This well melt the cheese and toast the bun to create one seriously scrumptious sandwich!
  • Make a meatball wrap! Heat a flour tortilla in the microwave for 20 seconds, then fill it up with 3-4 bbq meatballs, shredded iceberg lettuce or chopped romaine lettuce, sliced red onions and shredded cheddar cheese. Roll up the tortilla and enjoy a delicious, simple wrap for lunch or dinner!
  • Make a lettuce wrap! Add 2-3 meatballs on top of a piece of butter lettuce with shredded carrots and fresh chopped green onions for a tasty low carb meal or snack.
  • Make a breakfast bowl! Meatballs for breakfast? Oh yes, I did! Serve these meatballs in a bowl with cooked white rice, two fried eggs and sliced avocado. Top with a sprinkling of Everything Bagel Seasoning to complete the breakfast bowls!
  • Make sliders! Serve 1 meatball on a Hawaiian roll or slider bun to make a great game day snack or appetizer.
bbq meatballs in bowl with toothpicks in the meatballs

More beef recipes

If you’re on the hunt for more tasty beef recipes, I’ve got plenty! But be sure to also visit CalBeef.org for even more beefy goodness!

bbq meatballs in bowl with wooden spoon topped with diced green onions
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Baked Meatballs with Red Wine BBQ Sauce

It's easy to make delicious beef baked meatballs in the oven with this simple recipe. Serve them with a red wine BBQ sauce to create a flavorful appetizer, perfect for holiday parties, but scrumptious anytime of the year!

Ingredients

Meatballs

  • ½ tablespoon olive oil
  • ½ cup shallots, finely diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 pounds ground beef, I recommend 80/20
  • 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 2 teaspoons black pepper

Red Wine BBQ Sauce

  • ½ tablespoon olive oil
  • cup shallots, finely diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1 cup pinot noir, or another dry, light-bodied red wine
  • 6 ounces tomato paste
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup beef broth

Instructions

Meatballs

  • Preheat the oven broiler to high.
  • Heat the olive oil in a large skillet on the stove over medium high heat.
  • Add the shallots and cook for 4-5 minutes.
  • Add the garlic and saute for an additional 1-2 minutes.
  • Remove the skillet from the heat.
  • In a large bowl, combine the ground beef, bread crumbs, eggs, salt, smoked paprika, black pepper and cooked shallots and garlic.
  • Form the meatballs into 1 ½ inch balls (should make approximately 40 meatballs).
  • Place the meatballs on a baking sheet and into the oven on the middle rack.
  • Broil for 5-7 minutes.

BBQ Sauce

  • While the meatballs are in the oven, place the skillet that you cooked the shallots and garlic in, back on the stove over medium high heat.
  • Add the olive oil.
  • Add the ⅓ cup shallots for the bbq sauce and cook for 4-5 minutes.
  • Add the 3 minced garlic cloves and saute for an additional 1-2 minutes.
  • Add the smoked paprika, black pepper, salt and dry mustard, stirring all of the ingredients together.
  • Pour the pinot noir into the skillet and turn the heat up to high.
  • Bring the wine to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer for 5-7 minutes.
  • Add the tomato paste, brown sugar and beef broth. Whisk the ingredients together, then bring the sauce to a simmer again, stirring occasionally for 5 minutes.
  • Pour the sauce over the meatballs and serve.

Video

Notes

  • Shallots can be replaced by finely diced onions, if you prefer.
  • Traditional breadcrumbs can be used in place of the panko breadcrumbs, if that’s what you have on hand. Just make sure they’re unseasoned.
  • The red wine bbq sauce can be prepared after the meatballs are formed, but before they go into the oven. Or the sauce can be prepared first, followed by the meatballs. This way, the meatballs and sauce will be hot and ready at the same time.
  • The meatballs can be made up to 24 hours in advance. Cover and store them in the refrigerator until ready to bake. You can also make the bbq sauce in advance and store it in a covered container in the refrigerator until ready to serve. I recommend reheating the bbq sauce on the stove in a saucepan before serving over the meatballs.
  • To keep the meatballs warm at a party, follow the recipe as instructed, then place the meatballs in a slow cooker when they come out of the oven. Cover them in the bbq sauce, then keep them in the slow cooker on warm for up to 4 hours.
  • The meatballs can be baked in a 375°F oven for 15-18 minutes, instead of broiled.
  • Meatballs should always be cooked to an internal temperature of 160°F.
  • Leftover meatballs will stay good for up to 5 days, stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
  • These meatballs can be made and served on their own, without the BBQ sauce, or with another sauce like Marinara or Thai Peanut Sauce. If serving them with marinara sauce,  I recommend swapping out the smoked paprika and dry mustard, for 1 1/2 teaspoons Italian seasoning.
  • Fully-cooked meatballs can be frozen for up to 6 months in a freezer-safe bag or container. See post above for how to cook the frozen meatballs in the oven, on the stove, in the slow cooker or in an air fryer.

Nutrition Facts

Calories 93kcal (5%)Carbohydrates 5g (2%)Protein 5g (10%)Fat 5g (8%)Saturated Fat 2g (10%)Polyunsaturated Fat 1gMonounsaturated Fat 2gTrans Fat 1gCholesterol 24mg (8%)Sodium 229mg (10%)Potassium 140mg (4%)Fiber 1g (4%)Sugar 2g (2%)Vitamin A 152mg (3%)Vitamin C 1mg (1%)Calcium 17mg (2%)Iron 1mg (6%)
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